19 June 2001
UFU shocked by lack of young blood

By FWi staff

FIGURES revealing that that only four per cent of Northern Ireland farmers are under the age of 30 have stunned producers representatives.

Statistics in the recently published EU Farm Structure Survey highlight the need for restructuring assistance, says the Ulster Farmers Union.

The UFU has urged both the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government to introduce a scheme to address the chronic age imbalance.

The EU figures show that a massive 36% of farmers are over the age of 60 and 12% are aged between 55 and 60.

UFU president Douglas Rowe said these appalling statistics shocked him.

It is quite clear that the five-year recession in farming is taking its toll on the industry with very few new entrants joining our industry each year, he said.

Agriculture, like every other industry needs young people with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

He said a retirement or restructuring scheme was clearly needed, in line with many other European countries.

Once again it seems local farmers are being left behind.

Agriculture student Chris Donaldson, aged 21, on a one-year placement with Countryside Services, said the figures did not surprise him.

Mr Donaldson, whose family run a County Armagh dairy farm, said problems in agriculture made it difficult for young people to pursue a career in farming.

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